Jul 5, 2012, 3:31 PM EDT
Floyd Mayweather could learn a thing or two from Vitali Klitschko. The Ukrainian heavyweight boxer has never avoided an opponent, is the only world champion to hold a Ph.D., and has never been knocked down in a fight, or lost a decision (his two losses came on a torn rotator cuff and a cut above his eye, and he was leading on all scorecards at the time of both TKOs). He’s also the leader of Ukrainian political party UDAR (he’s running for the mayor of Kiev), and as such has found another avenue in which to get into some pretty tough brawls.
One of those occurred on Wednesday, as Ukrainians staged a rally in Kiev to protest a Russian language bill passed by parliament, making Russian, not Ukrainian, the official language in some formal settings in the former Soviet republic.
For his efforts Klitschko and several other protestors got a dose of tear gas courtesy of riot police.
The protest quickly turned violent, with police using batons and tear gas to subdue the crowd. Photographs show blood streaming from Klitschko’s left hand and him appearing to protect the hand as he is rushed out of the mob. However, Boente said that aside from the effects of the tear gas, Klitschko, who will defend his title on September 8th in Moscow against Manuel Charr, was “totally fine.”
Klitschko has said that after his fight with Charr he will turn his focus to the October Ukrainian elections, where his party will attempt to secure more seats in Parliament.
“I have spent a lot of time in Germany, in western Europe, in the U.S.,” Klitschko told SI.com in February. “I want the western life standards for my country. Ukraine is a young democracy with huge potential, but it doesn’t have those standards. I don’t want to wait for changes in my country. I know what has to change.”
And in case you thought that the tear-gas thing was a one-sided affair during the melee:
The language controversy is a sensitive issue here, as the Ukrainian language was banned from schools in the Russian Empire from 1804 until the Russian Revolution in the early 20th Century. It lived on in secrecy through folklore and storytelling, somewhat similar to the way that the U.S. government tried to stamp out some Native American languages in the 19th Century.
Klitschko’s younger brother, Wladimir Klitschko, is the WBA Super, IBF, WBO, IBO and The Ring heavyweight champion.
Sign: “Hands Off Ancient Kiev”.
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